New York Giants vs New Orleans Saints — Gus Kattengell’s Preview
Turning the page. It was a question asked to several players this week “I don’t know if that’s the term,” said New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. “I know this we still have a long way to go but I feel like we certainly headed in the right direction.
That direction is one that has been set by the team winning three of their last five games following an 0-3 start to the season. Sunday in the Superdome a win would put the team at 500 and even four wins and four losses through the first half of the season.
Strange to think that at the start of the month of October reports of head coach Sean Payton being possibly suited by other teams, was met with consideration by many fans rather than distraught.
A favorable schedule remains for the second half of the season and if the team continues to show improvement it parallel the 2006 season one the saw the Black and Gold reach the playoffs. That year, the Saints finished 10-6 and made the post season. It was a team that had to scrap for their wins and hope for opportunitive plays by the defense and was led by a coach eager to make his mark calling plays aggressively and using emotion and collectiveness as weapons.
This Saints team seems to have the makings of a team that could resemble that team or season. Albeit made up differently, as in 2006 it was mostly a collective of veterans as opposed to the 2015 team being mainly composed of young players, the similarity is in that this too is a team that trying to learn how to win.
I still think a 10-6 mark likely will be needed, maybe 9-7 to play playoff football. Do the math. The Saints can with four loses already can ill afford to lost really more than two to three more in the final eight games. Can they do it? Why not? You have to like what you’re seeing though. The team’s showing fight and perhaps we’ll look back at how the team holding on and making the plays they needed for the win at Indianapolis be a game we look back at and say, that’s when this new Saints run began.
HOW THE SOUTH IS WON
Carolina 6-0 vs Indianapolis +7.5
Atlanta 6-1 vs Buccaneers +8.0
New Orleans 3-4 @ N.Y. Giants +3.0
Tampa Bay 2-4 @ Atlanta -8.0
Two story lines stick out to me this week those being the coming to fruition of those that believed this was a better locker room that last year and if the Saints had turned the corner from being a bad football team.
So have the Saints turned the page from playing the type of football that helped get them to an (0-3) start? Well a reason they remained winless for a while was a long list. Sort of like doing a remodel, the team has tackled the issues seemingly one at a team or at a steady pace of improvement. First turnovers, they were minus five through five games but in the two game winning streak they are the ones taking the ball away. New Orleans picked up three fumbles against Atlanta and had a pair of interceptions against Indianapolis. The defense was having trouble stopping anyone, mainly due to the lack of a pass rush. Well there has been in the two wins thanks to defensive end Cam Jordan and his five sacks in the two wins. The Saints seem to be clicking on offense finally as the run game showed up last week, and running back CJ Spiller and receiver Brandin Cooks were targeted early to get the team going as well. The Saints showed in the fist half against the Colts there is talent on the team, yet in the second half showed the concerns and areas that need correcting.
A better locker room. Head coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis made it clear this off-season that a cleansing was needed inside the Saints locker room. We heard prior to the start of the season from players hint about the disrespect and unprofessionalism that existed in the locker room a season ago. From the first practice at OTAs through the days of training camp we heard how this year’s locker room was different. How this group of players would handle adversity and the process differently.
They were tested early. An 0-3 start would put the offseason decision into question. Veterans like tackle Zach Strief and quarterback Drew Brees during the winless start backed up the locker room, said the work would pay off and that there was fight in there. They appear right. Over the last four games three have been won and they have been by showing a gradual growth. It’s better football and we’re beginning to see some of the younger players become playmakers. More importantly they seem to be playing for each other something we can plainly see on the sidelines and on the field.
I think the staff has hit on many of the players that are new to the team and the high amount of injuries to the team early may have had a positive side effect. It seems that if you have a jersey in the locker room you’ve been called to action in some sort of way. I feel that by being pressed into action, the rookies or reserve young players have had to step up and perform and by doing so feel apart of the team. It’s not just ‘hey there are the starters’ and I’m over here. I get a sense that everyone feels they are just as important as the player to the left and right of them and that builds a tighter locker room.
New York is atop the NFC East Division (4-3) and coming off a win at home to the Cowboys. They started off the season with two straight losses and have been effected by injuries as well. WR Victor Cruz hasn’t played this season and form LSU Tiger Odell Beckham Jr. is nursing a hamstring injury and was held to just four receptions last week against the Cowboys.
It was game that Dallas quarterback Matt Cassell gave away with three interceptions and New York needed a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown to be the difference in the game. QB Eli Manning was only 13 of 24 for 157 yards and the run game produced 132 yards.
The Giants are the NFL's best in the turnover margin category.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Saints offense is ranked 15th in points at 23.0 a game getting there averaging 359.9 (6th) yards a game via 297.1 (3rd) in the air and just 98.7 (22nd) yards on the ground. New York’s offense is averaging 23.7 (10th) points a game by gaining 343.4 (23rd) yards on average getting there by averaging 247.9 (14th) yards through the air and 95.6 (25th) on the ground.
Defensively the Saints are giving up 26.4 (25th) points a game while allowing 404.9 yards (30th). Teams are passing for 275.7 (26th) yards and rushing for 129.1 (29th) against the Saints. The Giants are giving up 22.3 (14th) points a game while allowing 401.7 (29th) yards. Teams are passing for 288.3 (30th) yards and rushing for 113.4 (20st) against the Colts.
PLAYER THAT NEEDS TO HAVE A GOOD GAME ON OFFENSE
RB Mark Ingram. 14 carries and 143 yards last week and by helping the Saints establish a run game it opened up the big play theat. The have shown the ability to pick off passes, had three last week. If the Saints can get the ground game going then those defensive backs will have tothink about stopping the run and could help provide space for a big play downfield.
PLAYER THAT NEEDS TO HAVE A GOOD GAME ON DEFENSE
Cam Jordan. Jordan has five sacks in the last two games and that has allowed the Saints defense to get off the field on third downs and also pick off passes. Jordan and the defensive line have been pressuring the QBs and I believe will be able to do so if they can stop the run. It’s pretty much all the Giants have on offense.
Kenny Vaccaro. The Saints safety, thanks to the play of Delvin Breaux at corner, has been able to be used as a run stopper and pass rusher. Vaccaro loves to be physical and had a sack last week. He will be key in helping stop the Giants run game.
HOW I SEE IT
The Saints are playing better football. They proved that they can win two games in a row. Now can they prove that they can play well at home? The last three games at home the Saints offense has provided just seven points in the first half. We saw what getting off to a fast start at Indy did for the team.
I think the Saints have the offense moving in the right direction and the Giants are limited on offense. I see the Saints winning their third in a row 31-23.
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